23 August 2013

Olof Palme on democracy

Democracy is an exacting system of government.

It demands respect for others. One cannot force a system of government upon a nation from outside. The people must have the right to decide over their own destiny. It therefore presupposes national right of self-determination.

Democracy demands justice. One cannot gain a people by filling the pockets of those who are already rich while the poor are driven into ever-deeper distress. One cannot meet the demand for social justice by violence and military power. Democracy presupposes social liberation.

The goal of democracy can never be reached by means of oppression. One cannot save a village by wiping it out, putting the fields on fire, destroying the houses, captivating the people or killing them.

Former Swedish prime minister Olof Palme said these words back in 1968, in reference to the Indochina Wars. But we need to keep them in mind now, forty-five years later, every time a self-proclaimed champion of ‘democracy’ denies or downplays the rights of nations to self-determination (even if those nations do not happen to be popular amongst the NATO and EU set), or proclaims that democracy needs to be spread with guns and bombs, or scoffs at the idea that mass unemployment, inequality and corporate power are problems which directly concern those who care about the fate of democracy in the West.

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